All children struggle with their emotions particularly when they’re trying to process big events. For children with attachment difficulties as a result of their early life experiences, it can be extremely difficult for them to manage their emotions and tell their parents or carers what it is that’s worrying them. So, supporting children’s emotional well-being is vital to help our kids understand their feelings.
Karen Gibb founded the award winning business Mind Marvels to address the increasing emotional concerns among children by offering calming well-being sessions. Mind Marvels give children calming tools and practical strategies to understand their own emotions to feel more confident, build resilience and learn skills for life.
As a former teacher and someone who has struggled with anxiety herself, Karen directly influences and positively impacts the emotional well-being of children through Mind Marvels sessions in schools and nurseries.
In this article, Karen shares some tips and advice to help us support our children’s emotional well-being.
I’ve worked with children for a number of years now, in a range of capacities. Firstly as a youth worker, then as an early years practitioner, graduating as a teacher and now as Founder of Mind Marvels.
Throughout, it’s become increasingly clear that adults, children and young people were facing mental health crises even before Covid-19 emerged.
After a prolonged period away from education, school can feel daunting and overwhelming for some pupils after summer or other holidays. Young people may be feeling anxious, stressed or unsure how school will be for them returning.
Younger children don’t say “I’ve had a hard day, can we talk?” They say “will you come and play with me?” We can often forget play is a vital component for children to talk about their day at school and their feelings.
For older children and teenagers, it can be a drive in the car or watching a TV show together that can spark deep conversation. Actively encouraging children to talk about things that upset them including any fears or worries can be therapeutic for the child. It won’t necessarily burden them further, they can feel relief instead!
Supporting children’s emotional well-being
As parents, carers and educators, it’s ok to share some of your own childhood worries and fears. This will help children to understand that feeling anxious and worried is normal and acceptable. We all feel this way sometimes – even as adults! We can model by talking about times when we felt certain ways so children know that we have experienced similar feelings and that we are here for them.
Building a solid support system around our children is crucial for their development, especially right now. If children confide in other adults, that can also be positive. It shows they have built further secure attachments in their lives.
We can help build children’s vocabulary by introducing different words for our feelings from an early age. For example, sadness could also be anxious or scared. Children may notice how their body reacts when they experience different types of feelings, such as their tummy might be sore when they are feeling stressed.
We can sometimes mistake this for sickness or children may think they are themselves ill. Take note of children’s physical complaints if they complain of a tummy ache/headache etc and gently explain that it might be their body’s way of telling them something.
We can have that open dialogue with our young people by letting them know we sometimes have that “knot in our tummy” too.
Five tips to help children’s emotional well-being
School can be increasingly stressful for older pupils – the worry about exams and college/university entrance for some.
The number one important tip is one most adults may not practise very well themselves…sleep! Young people need ideally 8-10 hours of sleep a night. We know we are not always getting enough sleep, particularly due to phones or gadgets being accessed until late into the night. For young people especially, it can help to make an effort to go to bed earlier and keep phones away from the bed.
Tip number two is exercise – even when young people feel they “don’t have time” or are “too busy studying”. Exercise will release those endorphin hormones that give us the natural high, for increased energy and alertness for learning.
Tip number three is healthy eating. Eating well can give that much needed energy to clear minds and help with memory. Along with eating well, hydration is so important for our brains so we should aim for 6-8 glasses of water a day.
Tip number four to help with stress would be to concentrate on our breathing. We breathe all day, every day but when we actually take the time to deep breathe, inhaling and exhaling, this makes a huge difference to our bodies. Controlled deep breathing allows minds to be clear and ready for life’s challenges.
Finally, self care is so vital. Take some time to enjoy life. Watch a movie, make a cup of hot chocolate, have a bath – inexpensive ideas but this will allow young people to destress and unwind.
Looking after our mental health must be addressed first and foremost in order to feel ‘brain ready’ to learn. Most of all, in the ever changing chaotic world we live in, being present for our young people is key.
Mind Marvels well-being sessions
Mind Marvels deliver well-being sessions to help children with their emotional wellness in primary schools and nurseries. We’ve franchised our business UK wide and impact children from Glasgow to Wales! For further information please visit our website or find us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
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